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Kanishka Nilaweera

Research Officer

Research Interests

Obesity is a significant economic and health issue as it increases the risk of development of several clinical conditions including diabetes. My research aims to determine how we gain weight, and develop obesity. Using this information, we then aim to create dietary interventions that can reduce weight gain or cause weight loss, so that these interventions can be commercialised to tackle the obesity problem. To this end, we have explored the functional relationship between the gut, adipose tissue (where fat is stored) and the brain by modulating the activity of these tissues by feeding animals varied dietary compositions and quantities. This work has revealed connections between these tissues, which provide an insight into how we can gain weight and how to prevent or reduce it.

To support this work, we have attracted ~€2 Million grant funding from 2010 onwards. (http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6074-9457).

Key projects: Whey proteins and energy balance (https://osf.io/g432n/) and Calorie restriction and energy balance (Lead PI: Prof. John R. Speakman; https://osf.io/9yath/)


1998-2002: Ph.D. Neuroscience, University of Aberdeen, UK.
1993-1998: BSc Upper Second Class (Division 1) Honours in Genetics, University of Aberdeen, UK.

  1. Ronan Gough, Raul Cabrera Rubio, Paula Mary O'Connor, Fiona Crispie, André Brodkorb, Song Miao, Colin Hill, Reynolds Paul Ross, Paul David Cotter, Kanishka Nilaweera* and Mary Clare Rea. Oral delivery of nisin in resistant starch based matrices alter the gut microbiota in mice. Frontiers in Microbiology-Antimicrobials, Resistance and Chemotherapy. 2018 (in press).
  2. Nilaweera KN*, Cabrera-Rubio R, Speakman JR, O' Connor PM, McAuliffe A, Guinane CM, Lawton E, Crispie F, Aguilera M, Stanley M, Boscaini S, Joyce S, Melgar S, Cryan JF, Cotter PD. Whey protein-effects on energy balance link the intestinal mechanisms of energy absorption with adiposity and hypothalamic neuropeptide gene expression. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Jul 1;313(1):E1-E11.
  3. McManus BL, Korpela R, Speakman JR, Cryan JF, Cotter PD, Nilaweera KN*. Bovine serum albumin as the dominant form of dietary protein reduces subcutaneous fat mass, plasma leptin and plasma corticosterone in high fat-fed C57/BL6J mice. British Journal of Nutrition 2015 August;114 94); 654-662.
  4. McManus BL, Korpela R, O’Connor P, Schellekens H, Cryan JF, Cotter PD, Nilaweera KN*. Compared to casein, bovine lactoferrin reduces plasma leptin and corticosterone and affects hypothalamic gene expression without altering weight gain or fat mass in high fat diet fed C57/BL6J mice. Nutrition & Metabolism 2015, 12;53.
  5. McAllan, L, Speakman, J.R., Cryan, J.F. and Nilaweera, KN*. Whey protein isolate decreases murine stomach weight and intestinal length and alters the expression of Wnt signalling associated genes. British Journal of Nutrition 2015, January; 113 (2); 372-379.
  6. Finucane OM, Lyons CL, Murphy AM, Reynolds CM, Klinger R, Healy NP, Cooke A, Coll R, McAllan L, Nilaweera K, O’Reilly M, Tierney AC, Morine MJ, Alcala-Diaz JF, Lopez-Miranda J, O’Connor DP, O’ Neill L, McGillicuddy FC, and Roche HM. Monounsaturated fatty acid enriched high fat-diets impede adipose NLRP3 inflammasome mediated IL-1β secretion and insulin resistance despite obesity. Diabetes 2015, Jun;64(6):2116-28
  7. McAllan L, Skuse P, Cotter P, O’ Connor P, Cryan JF, Ross RP, Fitzgerald G, Roche HM and Nilaweera KN*. Protein quality and the protein to carbohydrate ratio within a high fat diet influences energy balance and the gut microbiota in C57BL/6J mice. PLoS One,2014 Feb 10;9(2):e88904.
  8. McAllan L, Keane D, Schellekens H, Roche HM, Korpela R, Cryan JF, Nilaweera KN*. Whey protein isolate counteracts the effects of a high-fat diet on energy intake and hypothalamic and adipose tissue expression of energy balance-related genes. British Journal of Nutrition 2013 Dec;110(11):2114-26.